By SCOTT LIND | Ontario
This will be my first letter to the editor in my 53 years as far as my aging brain can remember, and while there have been other issues that nearly moved me to do so, this finally did it.
As a local area resident, but not a Village of Ontario taxpayer, it isn’t for me to say what the Village of Ontario should ultimately do regarding Chief Rynes and part-time officer Wooten. This letter, at its heart, isn’t about what should happen to them, because even though the admitted facts look bad, there is no way for me to know the entire story, and I have to trust the people in the justice system from the investigating officers, to the attorneys, to the judges to make the right decisions. Without that trust, a full third of our system of government goes away.
Having interacted with Chief Rynes during the flood cleanup and attended the Challenge Academy graduation next to him earlier this year, I have the greatest respect for his work helping struggling young people get their lives back on track. He stepped up to help clean up Ontario when many others stood still and at the same time went well above and beyond personally to ensure the Challenge Academy students knew how much they were appreciated.
Chief Rynes’ open letter of April 2019 in this paper about his return to Ontario was very encouraging to me. A mixture of understanding, encouragement and some tough love based on the rule of law.
To say I was shocked and in disbelief when I first read about the events of Sept. 28, 2019, is not an exaggeration. I was raised to believe and still believe that honesty is the best policy and in fact the only policy that makes sense.
I grew up with an individual that when a situation arose where there would be consequences for actions, and they didn’t like the consequences, the choice they made was to lie about what had happened or what was about to happen. The result of that is that all these decades later, when that individual tells me something, the conversation isn’t a straightforward exchange of information. Instead, it’s a real-time translation to parse out what part of their statements I believe to be true and which I believe are lies. That’s exhausting and doesn’t encourage me to engage with them. It’s sad.
What motivated me to write this letter is what I read about the Nov. 11 Village of Ontario board meeting and my interpretation of coverage of the opinions expressed at that meeting. It came across that some (a majority?) believe that deception to avoid consequences is okay and that when the enforcement of laws and the upholding of ethical standards will lead to consequences, we should complain about that enforcement or those expectations. I hope I have misinterpreted that, because if I haven’t, it compounds the disappointment for me.
The circumstances around this entire event are depressing, but I hope that the lessons learned from it that we are teaching the generation coming behind us is that actions and choices have consequences and that honesty, still and always, is the best policy.